Review: Deathloop

Break the infinite cycle on Blackreef in Deathloop. Take on the role of Colt to break the cycle in a story mode, or play as Juliana to protect the loop and break into other players to restart Colt's cycle early.

Deathloop is a brand new first-person action shooter from Arkane Studios. The villains known from the Dishonored and Prey games. You mainly play as Colt on a day that repeats itself after every night. Colt and everyone on Blackreef are stuck in an infinite loop of the very same day. Your goal is to escape from this cycle, but only if you manage to kill all 8 visionaries within one day. And that, as you may have guessed, is not very obvious.

déjà vu

Deathloop takes place on exactly one day. This day is divided into 4 halves. The morning, the afternoon, the afternoon and the evening. There are also 4 locations that you can visit in Blackreef. After visiting 4 locations within 4 half-days, your day is over. At this point a new day begins, but it is actually the same day as you just experienced. You are stuck in a cycle of exactly one day. Anyone you kill that day will just live again the next morning. So to break the loop , you must kill every visionary before the day resets. But how do you do that?

After an introduction of about an hour, Deathloop has taught you the most important parts of the game. From day two, you're on your own and it's up to you to figure out how you're going to get this job done. Fortunately, you start with some hints to get you on your way. You get hints for all the visionaries you can follow as a kind of mission. By following these hints you travel through the different locations in different parts of the day in search of key elements that ensure that you can eventually kill all 8 visionaries within one day.

By following these missions you will discover routines, habits, ailments and more. Armed with all this information, you can overturn these routines, causing certain characters to suddenly be at a certain location at a certain time. After following all the hints from visionaries you can kill them all within the allotted time, but how you go about this is entirely up to you.

Freedom

Although there is a certain time element incorporated in the game, you notice it minimally while playing. There is no time clock linked to a part of the day, or to how long you roam around in a certain area. As long as you stay in one area, time will not advance. So you can explore freely. Fortunately, because there is a lot to see, find and figure out in Deathloop.

Not only can you look for the visionaries and everything that roams around these individuals, but also looking for weapons, trinkets and more is going to take up some of your time in the game. The worst part is that everything you collect in a day, you lose at the end of the day. Fortunately, after the introduction, you discover a way to preserve stuff for the next cycle. This allows you to save a certain weapon, trinket, perk or special power even after restarting the day. You do need a certain amount of stuff to preserve these things. You get this stuff by killing visionaries, finding unstable objects in the world, or by sacrificing found weapons, trinkets and special attacks. There is no limit to how many weapons and other items you can keep, but you should have enough resources at the end of the day to preserve your desired items. Once preserved, they are yours forever, until you throw them away yourself.

Plan your escape

So to escape the cycle you have several tasks on your to-do list. Just one of these tasks is sifting through all the visionaries. Other tasks include finding special weapons, special powers belonging to the visionaries, which sometimes require you to kill them more often for certain upgrades of this power, and searching for information.

Almost all activities are tied to a specific location and a specific part of the day. In the morning you will find a location very different than in the evening. In the morning you might see characters building a concert venue, in the evening the concert is going on. This is actually the case everywhere, unless you take care of certain twists.

You do this all in your own way, in your own order. Want to hunt down all the visionaries for their powers and upgrades first? Fine. Or do you want to look for a certain weapon first? Also fine. There is not really a set path that you walk. There are several roads from A to B and you choose which one you want to walk. This also applies to taking out the visionaries. Make it as tight as you want. Give them a taste of their own medicine, put a bullet through their heads, or fill an underwater complex with water. Your run , your party.

blockbusters

Blackreef is filled to the brim with safes and doors that you can only open with combination codes. Before you start searching the internet, I warn you that all code combinations are random for all players. So you really have to get started with figuring out a code yourself. Fortunately, here and there you will find a lot of documents and PCs lying around where the necessary information, or hints about the necessary information, is stored. Once you have found a code, it will in almost all cases be filled in automatically when you encounter the relevant code lock again. So you don't have to remember all the codes in combination with the locks. There are some exceptions.

You want to look for these safes and doors for strong weapons, trinkets, but also to unlock new locations to discover new possibilities. Your entire makeover has to be done in style, of course, because the game is packed with style!

Deathloop knows what it is and acts accordingly. It's a very stylish game with unique designs and ideas on every street corner. From the many attacks, weapons, designs of enemies, masks to the cutscenes that carry a very cool comic style as if it was drawn by the same person who drew the intro of the Powerpuff Girls.

Dishonor among the visionaries

The story takes several turns during your playing time but you feel completely in control from front to back. It's definitely your party on Blackreef, although your direct opponent makes you think otherwise. In about 20 hours you are through the story and you have discovered more than enough of the locations.

The disadvantage is that the four different locations start to get a bit monotonous after about 15 hours. At this point you have already gone through more than 10 cycles and you know exactly what to expect and where it awaits you. You race through the locations to check off your to-do list because you've actually seen everything else. The build-up to the end lacks a bit of a late-game refresh that changes that last stretch.

Invaded by dark spirit Juliana

The change that can make it more fun is the option to play online. While playing, Juliana can disrupt your playing session at any time. This is your direct arch-rival and your mutual relationship is “complicated” as Facebook would put it. The great thing is that this Juliana can be another player (if you have online turned on). The less beautiful thing is that playing as Juliana is actually not possible at the moment due to the very bad connection.

It basically works a bit like Dark Souls. Juliana (another player) enters your world and must kill you to win. She can choose from an arsenal that is the same as yours, but she can also pretend to be another character. If she attacks you she will at least reveal herself again. Colt can't escape through the tunnels when Juliana invades, until Colt hacks into the antenna where Juliana starts. As a host you have two options. Kill Juliana before she kills you, or hack the antenna and escape before Juliana finds and kills you.

At the time of writing, this feature does not work as well as it looks on paper. Juliana always gets the short straw because Colt is the host. Connection issues, lag and other bugs plague this multiplayer mode.

Verdict

Deathloop is a very pleasant surprise this fall. In fact, we secretly already know that Arkane hardly disappoints us. It's a unique game and actually hardly comparable to anything else on the market. Deathloop isn't a Dishonored copy, it's not a Hitman copy, but it resembles both titles, but also so much more. It's not a roguelike either, but it also nibbles on a number of elements. Deathloop is a brand new concept and probably the only one of its kind. It fits, it works and it plays wonderfully, even if you have no idea what is coming your way for the first few hours. With minimal niggles, your entire ride through Deathloop is likely to be seamless, feeling energized, captivated and spurred at all times to continue playing and discover more of all the secrets in Blackreef.

Titles like Deathloop ensure that the gaming industry continues to develop and after decades of gaming, we are still faced with surprises and new things. Not only in terms of technological possibilities, but also in terms of creative design.

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